Smart Dining Out Strategies

Keep these healthful strategies in mind the next time you go to a restaurant.

Dining Out

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Whether we go out to eat for convenience on busy weeknights or to celebrate with friends on special occasions, dining at restaurants is a favorite pastime. Unfortunately, it's not always the healthiest practice. With the demand to satisfy overindulgent appetites and expectations, many restaurants tempt us with bigger portions and richer, fattier fare. We have some suggestions to help you make better choices on your next outing.

What's on Your Plate?

Believe it or not, the number of calories in just one restaurant meal, including appetizers and sides, can add up to as much as 2,500 calories (above the average daily calorie recommendation for most people), says Dr. Connie Guttersen, registered dietitian and nutrition instructor at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley, California. "Although finer eateries typically offer smaller portions and fresh ingredients," she explains, "less expensive restaurants tend to be just the opposite with larger serving sizes and less nutrient-dense foods." The good news is that many chefs and restaurants are offering healthier choices and more reasonable size portions. Still, temptation often gets the best of us when we order from a menu. Adopt these simple strategies to make your dining experience a more healthful one.

Healthy Benefits

Fast food can actually be healthful as some chains are offering better choices, such as grilled sandwiches instead of fried meals. McDonald's even offers juice or low-fat milk and apple slices with low-fat caramel dip in their Happy Meals, so opt for the more nutritious items.

Eating slowly allows the message of satiety to get to the brain before you fill up too much and become uncomfortably stuffed.

By Shannon Sliter Satterwhite, M.S., R.D.
Jan, 2005
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